Pilgrimage: Manos Hadjidakis from the Diaspora

  • Artist(s): Athina Vasilakis, Erzsi Gódor, Ginevra Petrucci, Jay Elfenbein, Lev (Ljova) Zhurbin, Oren Fader, Pano Hora Ensemble
  • Composer(s): Manos Hadjidakis
  • EAN Code: 7.46160914299
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: cimbalom, Double-Bass, Fadolin, Flute, Guitar, Voice
  • Period: Contemporary
  • Publication year: 2022
SKU: C00596 Category:

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For Muslims, a Hadj is a pilgrimage to Mecca. Orthodox Christians also use the word to recognize someone’s visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, or baptism in the Jordan. Manos Hadjidakis’s surname likely reflects some ancestor’s pilgrimage to one of those places. More importantly, his music has become something of a sacred destination, too. As a child in Washington, D.C., listening to his songs in the 1960s and 1970s, I could hear that they were different from the other Greek songs in our record collection. The poetic lyrics added an unfamiliar dimension, especially in his collaborations with the great poet, Nikos Gatzos. But other Greek songwriters, including the other internationally famous one of that period, Mikis Theodorakis, also made use of exquisite poetry. There is more to the unique, sacred feeling of Hadjidakis’s songs than their poetry’s beauty. Whether the subject is young love, lost love, a mountainous wilderness, the death of a girl, an evening’s stroll, or an eccentric old man living in a garden, they vividly bring to life specific people, moments and places, then transform them into something more. The frequent use of surrealistic imagery points in a mystical direction – the moon falls into a river, a prayer is fashioned from the hair of a beloved lady – but it is the music itself that elevates the scene in a manner akin to a hymn. Trying to describe how music produces feelings can only be a clumsy attempt to explain something ineffable. One cannot read one’s way to some destinations. One must visit them. The songs included here constitute a small fraction of Hadjidakis’s corpus, but span much of his most productive years, with selections from the 1940s to the 1970s, and represent each of the various genres in which his songs were featured. Some of the music first appeared in plays: Hartino to Fengaraki was written for the Greek production of A Streetcar Named Desire (1948), and To Triantafillo was written for Federico Garcia Lorca’s Doña Rosita (1959). Efige to Treno and Odos Oniron are from the 1962 musical, Odos Oniron. Six of the songs appeared in films, including To Fengari Ine Kokino from Stella (1955), O Imittos from Liza Has Run Away (1959), Pame Mia Volta Sto Fengari, Nikhterinos Peripatos and Hassapiko Nostalgique, from Never on Sunday (1960), and Mayico Hali, which is based on a melody originally written as the theme to Topkapi (1964). One of the songs, I Parthena Tis Yitonias Mou, from the album Gioconda’s Smile (1965), first appeared as an orchestral piece (with the narrative conveyed via program notes rather than lyrics). Hadjidakis also wrote song cycles, and two songs included here, S’agapo and Lianotragouda, are from perhaps his greatest song cycle, O Megalos Erotikos (1972). The rest were written as stand-alone popular songs, including I Timoria (1960), Kyr’ Adonis (1961), I Pikra Simera (1970) and Mikri Rallou (1970).
All of these have been recorded by Hadjidakis himself, and many of them have been recorded as instrumental arrangements more than once by Hadjidakis or his close associates – including in Hadjidakis’ famous albums, Fifteen Vespers (1964) and Thirty Nocturnes (1987), and Nikos Kypourgos’ The Other Marketplace (1998). Not to mention the countless recordings by Greek and other artists of vocal versions of his songs, including the beautiful 1983 collaboration of Lena Platonos and Savina Yannatou, To ’62 Tou Manou Hadjidaki. Many of those recordings, including all the albums listed here, are classics. Why create another collection now? One reason to record covers of great songs, I suppose, is the passage of time. Despite Hadjidakis’s fame, I encounter many people, even professional musicians, who are not familiar with his music. That may seem strange to those who followed his career. He produced an uncountable number of great songs, and was well known in America, where he lived for five years (in the early years of the Greek dictatorship), won an Academy Award, had one of his most famous albums (Gioconda’s Smile) produced by Quincy Jones, and saw his songs recorded with the original Greek lyrics by such legendary American performers as Nat King Cole and Harry Belafonte. (Yes, popular music used to be like that.) Nevertheless, it has been several decades since those things happened. New covers may open a door to his music for some who don’t already know it and might not otherwise stumble upon it. Apart from such practical rationalizations, another reason is simply personal. After experiencing Hadjidakis’s music for over fifty years, I wanted to climb inside my favorite songs in a new way, not to reinvent them, but rather to hear what can happen when they are arranged for a small and novel ensemble. I hope those that love his music will not hold shortcomings that reflect the limitations of my hearing against me. I don’t think Hadjidakis (who once said that every song is a game) would mind. He certainly understood such a need, if not such limitations. He recorded instrumental covers of many of the most important compositions of his youth, reflecting pilgrimages to his own rebetiko roots in the masterpieces, Lilacs Out of the Dead Land (1961), and The Cruel April of 1945 (1972). And he collaborated as a pianist with the great singer, Flery Dadonaki, in the stunning Liturgica (1970), part of which was dedicated to classic rebetiko covers and part to Hadjidakis’s own songs. Writing about his 1940s experience of rebetiko in the notes to Lilacs, Hadjidakis must have known that he also was summarizing his own effect on a generation of listeners: “dazed by the grandeur and depth of the melodic phrases, a stranger to them, young and without strength, I believed suddenly that the song I was listening to was my own, utterly my own story.” Great songs become everyone’s property. I remember on a ferry to Naxos about twenty years ago listening to two grandparents sweetly sing Hartino to Fengaraki to their granddaughter. Think about the effect on a young child of the line “if you had believed me even a little, it all would have been true.” More delightful words have never been heard by a granddaughter. That song became hers forever, just as it was theirs.It also occurs to me that Hadjidakis might have liked the idea of having his compositions reflected in a multi-cultural mirror of American musicians. He collaborated with the great director, Elia Kazan in the film masterpiece America America (1963), which among its other themes explored the conception of America in the Greek psyche. Later, during his five years living in New York, Hadjidakis experienced America as an immigrant. Perhaps it was not a coincidence that he worked on O Megalos Erotikos, arguably his most profound reflection on Greek culture, during his time in New York. It might even be argued that the distance from Greece during those years in New York helped to highlight what was essential and common in the Greek love poetry of the ages that he wove together in that remarkable work. In arranging these songs and producing this album I incurred many debts, most obviously to the accomplished musicians who came together to form the Pano Hora Ensemble: Erzsi Gódor, Ginevra Petrucci, Ljova Zhurbin, Oren Fader, and Jay Elfenbein; to Daniel Zinn, who managed and conducted the rehearsals and recording sessions, and to Godfrey Furchtgott, who engineered the mixes so skillfully. Ginevra Petrucci painted the beautiful portrait of Hadjidakis that appears on the cover of the album. I am also grateful to Athina Vasilakis, whose voice can be heard reading brief excerpts from the lyrics in Greek and English before each song, to David Rozenblatt, who offered helpful ideas on several of the orchestrations, to the pianist, Beyza Yazgan, who sat in during rehearsals prior to Erzsi’s arrival from Budapest, to Nick Tolle, who brought us his cimbalom from Boston, to Garrett DeBlock, the recording engineer at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather Studio, where the songs were recorded in December 2021, and to Alan Silverman, who engineered the master. I am grateful to my wife, Nancy, for encouraging me throughout the process, to my late father, William (Vasilis), for maintaining a collection of Greek albums and playing them incessantly, to my late mother, Mary, for tirelessly writing out and explaining Greek song lyrics to me, and to God for bringing all of these people into my life and making this journey possible.
Charles Calomiris, New York, January 2022


Ginevra Petrucci: Hailed by the press as “one of the most interesting talents of her generation”, Ginevra Petrucci has performed at Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Salle Cortot (Paris), Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Villa Medici (Rome), Ohji Hall (Tokyo), as well as throughout China, South America and the Middle East.
As a soloist, she has appeared in concert with I Pomeriggi Musicali, I Virtuosi Italiani and the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and has released the first recordings of Edouard Dupuy and Ferdinand Buchner’s Concertos. Her chamber music experience has brought her to appear alongside pianists Bruno Canino and Boris Berman, and to a long-standing collaboration with the Kodály Quartet, with whom she has released the highly acclaimed recording of the complete Flute Quintets by Friedrich Kuhlau. Her recording of Robert Muczynski’s Sonata has been praised as “oozing with lifeblood and zest … enthralling and rousing”. In 2017 she has rediscovered and recorded Wilhelm Kempff’s Quartet for flute, strings and piano and toured Italy with its premiere performances.
Ginevra devotes much of her artistic endeavors to contemporary music. At Yale University she has collaborated with George Crumb, Steve Reich, Betsy Jolas and Kaija Saariaho, performing the American premiere of Terrestre. She commissioned Jean-Michel Damase’s last composition, 15 Rubayat d’Omar Khayyam for voice, flute and harp, and she has appeared at the Venice Biennale Contemporary Music Festival with a commissioning project dedicated to Witold Lutosławski. In 2018 she has founded the Flauto d’Amore Project, a large-spanning commission endeavor aimed to the creation of a new music repertoire for the modern flauto d’amore.
She has curated the edition of over twenty musical editions, including Briccialdi Concertos for Ricordi/Hal Leonard and first editions of works by Mercadante, Jommelli, Morlacchi, Busoni and De Lorenzo. Her scholarly articles appear in the Flutist Quarterly, as well as in the leading flute magazines in Italy and France.
She has studied at Santa Cecilia Conservatory in her native Rome with her father, and then pursued her education at the École Normale in Paris. She holds a Master and Artist Diploma from Yale University and a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University.
She is Principal Flute at Chamber Orchestra of New York.

Jay Elfenbein
has held the position of principal bassist with Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Opera Lafayette, and the Washington Bach Consort, among others. He was viola da gamba soloist in both Bach Passions, for many performances, including the Kennedy Center, and played basse de violon with Tragicomedia, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Early Music New York. He holds a Master of Music degree in jazz composition and arranging, and has published works commissioned by Les Voix Humaines (Montréal); Elliot Z. Levine, baritone of Western Wind Vocal Ensemble (New York); Yukime Kambe Consort (Japan); Bass Instinct Sextet (Vienna). He has contributed to more than 40 recordings for Sony Classics, CBS and Virgin, among others. He has worked with Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul McCartney, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon, Joe Zawinul, Dave Brubeck, Chris Potter, Jean-Phillipe Viret and Anthony Braxton. After 30 years in New York, Washington and Boston playing classical, Baroque and jazz on bass and viola da gamba, Jay spent several years as a gamba and bass soloist with Cirque du Soleil in Macau and France before returning to New York in 2014.

Lev (Ljova) Zhurbin
composes and arranges for the concert stage, contemporary dance & film, leads his own ensemble, Ljova and the Kontraband, and performs as a violist and fadolínist. He has authored more than 120 compositions for classical, jazz, and folk ensembles, as well as scores for numerous films. He has released ten albums on his label, Kapustnik Records, and his compositions have been recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, Bridge Records, Naxos and In A Circle labels. He is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute’s Film Composers Lab. His music has been licensed by HBO, PBS, BBC, CNBC, and NHK networks, among others. Recent projects include commissions from the City of London Sinfonia, The Louisville Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, a string quartet for Brooklyn Rider, and a clarinet quintet for Art of Élan. He has appeared as violist on Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Ljova is the curator of “Out of Leftovers”, a family-friendly performance series at New York’s Symphony Space.

Oren Fader
has performed classical and electric guitar in Asia, Europe, and throughout the United States. Concerto performances include the Villa-Lobos Guitar Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the New Jersey and the Omaha Symphonies. He has performed hundreds of concerts with a wide range of classical and new music groups, including the Met Chamber Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Bowers Fader Duo, New York Philharmonic, Talea Ensemble, ICE, Mark Morris Dance Group, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has premiered over 250 solo and chamber works with guitar, and can be heard on over 50 commercial recordings and films. He received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Purchase and his Master of Music degree from Florida State University. Since 1994, Mr. Fader has been on the guitar and chamber music faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. He also directs the classical guitar programs at Montclair State University and SUNY Purchase.

Erzsi Gódor, cimbalom
Ginevra Petrucci, flute
Lev (Ljova) Zhurbin, fadolin
Oren Fader, guitar
Jay Elfenbein, double-bass


Manos Hadjidakis
(b Xanthi, 23 Oct 1925; d Athens, 15 June 1994). Greek composer and administrator. Almost entirely self-taught as a composer, he attracted notoriety in February 1949 by drawing attention in a lecture to rebetiko (urban folksong), a genre previously scorned by serious Greek musicians. His series of lectures on American composers (Menotti, Copland and others) in Athens early in 1953 did much to expand the horizons of young Greek composers, who had been isolated by World War II and by postwar conditions. He was active in promoting new Greek music within Greece: in 1962 he financed the Manos Hadjidakis Competition at the Athens Technological Institute, which introduced works by Xenakis, Logothetis, Mamangakis, Antoniou, Ioannidis and others; in 1964 he founded and conducted the Piramatiki Orchistra Athinon (Athens Experimental Orchestra), which, although it gave only 20 concerts during its brief life (1964–7), was responsible for the premières of 15 Greek pieces. In 1967 Hadjidakis moved to New York, but he returned to Greece in 1972. In 1975 his international reputation prompted Karamanlis’s right-wing government to appoint him director of music programmes for Hellenic Radio and, a little later, director of its Third Programme (1975–82), as well as director general of the Athens State Orchestra (1976–82) and deputy director general of the National State Opera (1974–7). For seven years he was one of the most influential musical figures in Greece. Under his guidance the Third Programme underwent considerable (though not lasting) changes, while the short-lived Musical August festival in Iraklion, founded in 1979, became an important platform for young composers. Yet despite Karamanlis’s support, the intricate problems of music in Greece after years of stagnation and mismanagement proved insoluble for one of Hadjidakis’s ebullient temperament, and he withdrew when Papandreou came to power. He then became editor of the art periodical To tetarto (1982–3) and founded the record company Seirios (1985) and the Orchistra ton Chromaton (Orchestra of the Colours; 1989), whose sole conductor he remained as long as his health permitted.